Prayer To Escape The East

Ash ascending the altitudes of dawn--
and all along these tarnished clouds
have refused to accept our suffering.
Down a side street, the wind goes on
tuning its violin, a pizzicato off
the thin strings of hope, a melody
of dust.
If you knew anything
as true as a bird's magnetic heart,
where wouldn't you be instead of here,
looking out on the blank grey measure
of another year, a street lamp
at the outpost of dusk?
All the old failings
circling in the moth-spattered light,
ones you've held on to so long now
they just about shine, like the sparrows
in evening's rusted trees--
almost the same
birds above Rincon or Malibu, the trees
still simmering in that '60s, slow,
Pacific sun, the glassy waves repeating
their incomplete sentences about the present,
and the past--surfboards spiked upright
in the sand like totems for the last city
of gold.
And looking off
in that lost direction, back that far west,
the string section in the palms picks up,
and who's that on Coast Highway One,
blond as Tab Hunter or Sandra Dee
pulling up to Trancas in a convertible
If there were angels,
why would they come forward now
to acknowledge another complaint?
And what small comfort could there be
in their terribly bright memories
of everything?
It's the same future
waiting there regardless, unthreading
through the blue eucalyptus--your guess
as good as the birds', singing their hearts out
for nothing but the last crumbs
of daylight pinpointing the small space
of their lives?
What use asking what more
you could ask for. You might as well
look out there to where they said
the big picture was and watch the credits roll
before the bandages and plastic bottles arrive
on the tide
with the grainy underbelly
of industrial light. What's left to contribute
to the dark? The echo and chum of the waves?
Only that to confirm the eternal at your back.
So why not
pick up this dust-colored feather,
carry it to your rented room and open the glass
doors above the river, unclench your fist and let it
float out in the and direction, as unlikely as luck.

by Christopher Buckley

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